Dr. John Horner, Paleontologist

jack horner with steven spielberg

Jack has been a consultant to Steven Spielberg for the movies, "Jurassic Park" and "The Lost World".


Dr. John (Jack) Horner remembers having trouble with math, reading, and foreign languages in school. He absolutely loved science, and searched out fossils with his dad in Montana as a boy. He looked at every science book he could get a hold of in his town, but he never really read them because he couldn't read. In high school he won every science fair with his innovative projects, but he still had problems memorizing for science tests.

Jack reported, "I only remember one B in my life. The rest were a few Cs, mostly Ds, and lots and lots and lots of Fs. But I always believed in myself. This came from knowing that there were other things that I could do better than anyone else. . . Throughout college, I learned a lot but I kept flunking out. I still couldn't memorize. It was also hard for me to keep up with lectures. In chemistry, I remember my teacher writing on the board and talking about something else at the same time. I couldn't follow either. And I could never keep up with all the reading."

He got a job in paleontology at Princeton University fixing up all the dinosaur bones. It was there that he heard of dyslexia, to his relief. Once on vacation he discovered nests with baby dino bones in them, which was a new world find. He became the curator at the Museum of the Rockies and began teaching at the Montana State University in Bozeman. "I never make my students memorize for tests. Instead, they have to explain what they know."

"Because I am dyslexic, I believe I offer a different approach to certain subjects. That comes with the way I think. I think differently, and that makes me ask questions differently." Jack advises people that if they are interested in doing something, spend time doing it. "But do it your way; don't worry about other peoples' expectations."

Jack has received a MacArthur Foundation Award (called the "Genius Award"), and he was the real life model for the paleontologist in the movie, Jurassic Park.

Amblin Entertainment and Universal Pictures gave permission to post the photo of Steven Spielberg and Dr. Jack Horner on this website.

Summary: Adapted from Succeeding with LD* (Learning Differences) 20 True Stories About People with LD, by Jill Lauren, M.A., Copyright (c) 1997. Used with permission of Free Spirit Publishing Inc., Minneapolis, MN; 800-735-7323. All rights reserved. Call for a copy of their catalogue, or send them an e-mail message at <help4kids@freespirit.com>.

*Lauren, Jill. Succeeding with LD. Minneapolis: Free Spirit Publishing, 1997. 18-25.